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Friday, 27 July 2012

West Malling: more then & then & now.

As many as one people have written to ask where exactly in Kings Hill the MMT hanger stood. This, o' course, was the scene of the climactic Yer Mama Should etc. sequence in the titular film, but despite the excellent illustrations in The Beatles' London, pinning down its former location proved tricky; virtually nothing now remains of West Malling airfield, and, as stated in the aforementioned 'bok':"...the new roads and buildings have obliterated any sense of MMT orientation".
Well almost...but not quite. There is one surviving landmark - the old control tower, and this, together with the above newly found pic, allows a more or less accurate placing of the 'anger (should anyone care.)
There were actually four hangers at West Malling. The pics above and below were taken with the MMT hanger behind the photographer, but crucially (and that really isn't the right word) the control tower can be seen above on the right. This one is to the immediate left of the above (clear as mud, but let's plough on):

An overview - the arrow marks the spot:

This 'then & then' again shows the location - the hanger in these pics isn't the MMT one:

Had the photographer turned around, however, they'd have got the following view - the "correct" hanger (and another 'then & then'):

The MMT hanger location can thus be ascertained. The car park on the right is (more or less) the spot where John and George's vehicles can be seen in the first two pics above, the arrows point to the control tower, the circled portion corresponds to the '67 fan photo, and scanning left shows what now squats where the very hanger once...errr...also squatted, namely Queen Street in Kings Hill:

There are a number of excellent on-line resources celebrating the history of West Malling airfield (and lamenting what has become of it), and lots of interesting pics. For example these, taken on the other side of the hanger seen in the first two pics above, with the one on the left circa WW2:

So now ye know.


  1. Great post and amazing detective work. Love the detail - god knows how you made any sense of such a confusing location.
    The pics of the girl standing next to the cars are brilliant too. I love those two cars and there are so few pics available of them in the 60s. The first photo gives the first good glimpse of the original wheels on George's Mini. They're no longer on the car - it now has gold minilite wheels on it.

  2. Great stuff as ever. Was on a day out to Knole last month so popped here on the way home. I think I sent you my (rather unexciting) pic of the famed control tower. It's a pretty horrible place now, everythings clean and tidy and new and souless. There's even tow toilets in the Costa Coffee, as oppposed to the standard unisex ones that you get in the majority. They were building right around the tower when I was there, and you could feel the frustration from the builders and not being able to knock the blasted thing down. It's in a state now, I found a pic of it from 1990 when it's all shiny and full of people at some kind of display. Tis sad to see it now. I'll go back next Spring to see of any progress....